Paris Peace Forum – enshrining a lasting peace for us all

This is a post written by ONE’s Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Jamie Drummond.

My kind, gentle grandfather served in World War 1 as an engineer, a tunneler. His regiment specialised in digging from the allied trenches to the German lines, laying explosives to allow troop advances above ground. He was apparently the only member of his platoon to survive the carnage, but we never heard him discuss it.

I’ve read that these tunnelers were terrified of encountering their German counterparts coming the other way. Terrified of tunnels touching in the dark, forcing them to fight with fixed bayonets in the pitch black. Shooting from either side might have set off the explosives, killing them all. Imagine the horror of these hellish scenes.

We all have ancestors who were forced into such barbarity, in some cases more recently than a century ago. Kind, gentle people whipped up in the fervour of nationalism, imperialism, and other, novel – as well as ancient- extremes.

Over the coming days, thousands will gather at the Paris Peace Forum to discuss how to ensure such carnage is never repeated. Not long ago, such a gathering might have seemed academic. But events of late – in Syria, North East Nigeria, Yemen, and Myanmar, coupled with the rise of xenophobic, populist, authoritarianism in parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas – has once more raised the spectre of global conflict.

There are no silver bullets to end the barbarity of conflict. But if you share any concern about the state of the world, now is the time to engage, not sit on the sidelines.

We must all side with this strategy: that the surest, long-term path to peace is justice. And the surest way to sustainably deliver justice is through two, long-term investments. On the one hand, open, accountable institutions within and between nations that uphold human rights, the rule of law, access to jobs and basic services. And on the other, engaged, informed networks of citizens who hold these national and global institutions to account for delivering these services.

With partners, we at ONE are building such a network.

Right now, millions of our members, along with those of our partners, are busy holding governments accountable for delivering on their promises to the planet’s most marginalised. These women and men live at humanity’s frontline against extreme poverty, extreme climate and extreme ideology, and their safety is an extension of ours.

We are proud to partner with groups like Global Witness and initiatives like the Open Government Partnership, who help hold governments and corporations accountable for corruption in the management of resources; with groups like the Malala Fund and Girls not Brides, and campaigns like Poverty is Sexist, to remind those in power of their promises to invest in girls’ education; and with groups like Connected Development, AccountabilityLab and Budgit, to empower young people in Nigeria, Mali and beyond with the technology and training to hold local governments to account.

These are the kinds of civic movements the world needs far more of, both south and north.

But we mustn’t stop there. They must be linked to think-tanks and independent researchers, educating, engaging and informing citizens of their rights. We need an ecosystem of accountability, with partners worldwide at the grassroots and grasstops. It is not just rockstars or techno-utopian billionaires who will save people and planet, though they have a role. It is this citizens’ accountability movement, taken to scale, that will determine whether the world meets the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and, through this battle for justice, enshrines a more lasting peace for us all.

But none of this will happen without your voice. So take action, join ONE, and help shape this people’s partnership through events like today’s Peace Forum in Paris.


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